Improving Indoor Air Quality
Do You Know What Could Be Making Your Home Toxic?
The air in your home looks clean. There’s no smog, no smoke, no exhaust, but lurking everywhere in your home are particles that are every bit as dangerous as any of those. Even the cleanest home has items in it that producegases and fumes you don’t even realize as you go about your daily life. An obvious source of gaseous emissions is gas lines, but modern homes have many more things that produce harmful chemical smells. Ink printers, carbon-less paper, permanent markers and paint all release particles that lead to health problems over time. Even new furniture gives off an odor that permeates the air.
Other problems that cause deterioration in home air quality are mold, pet dander, pollen. These are not just a problem for allergy sufferers. They are dangerous to the old, and very young, as well as anyone with a weak immune system. Bad air quality in your home will even begin to affect the health of otherwise healthy individuals. Poor air quality is responsible for a condition known as “sick building syndrome.” This produces a general feeling of fatigue, depression, coughs and cold. Many of these symptoms of poor air quality are temporary and include:
- Eye, ear, nose and throat irritation
These symptoms usually leave when you go outside. Long-term exposure to bad air quality can also contribute to serious diseases such as:
- Heart disease
- Lung conditions
Other biologic particles in the air cause the spread of airborne illnesses such as influenza, chicken pox, measles and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
What Causes Poor Air Quality In The Home?
Common sources of bad air quality are pets, smoking, cooking fumes, cleaning chemicals and items in the home that emit odors. Dampness or trapped water under rugs, on furniture, under tiles and behind walls create mold that releases spores into the air. Not all air quality problems come from inside the home though. Outside pollutants enter through cracks and crevices as well as through ventilation openings, open windows, and when doors are opened and closed.
Solutions For Poor Home Air Quality
If you smoke—stop. Second hand smoke permeates fabrics and carpets and causes odors in your home long after the actual smoke dissipates. If you have well water, have it tested regularly for radon emissions. Police your home for mice or rats. The urine and feces residue left behind from vermin and contributes to airborne allergens when it dries out.
Place an appropriately sized air purifier in every living space in the home. Get rid of any are where standing water can accumulate, and make sure you empty humidifiers when not in use. Replace old mattresses, and cover new ones with plastic based mattress covers to combat dust mites that build up inside unprotected mattresses. Cover pillows with impermeable casings as well to protect them from dust mites, and body fluids that accumulate from use.
Vacuum floors regularly with a sealed system HEPA vacuum. Use a wet mop to clean bare floors. Dry or remove any carpet, padding, tile or furniture that becomes waterlogged to prevent mold. Clean and disinfect all sink drains, and basement floor drains regularly.